Finding Your Voice as a Thought Leader

Finding Your Voice as a Thought Leader

As an entrepreneur with the goal of becoming an influential thought leader with a lasting legacy, it’s important to consider the body of work that you want to create.

The questions below will help you design your body of work. This is about you gaining mastery, growth, and fulfillment from your work while also creating the greatest possible contribution.

For each of the following questions, write as many answers as you can think of. It’s best at first to capture anything that comes to mind. Don’t edit yourself. This is about uncovering possibilities and innovative ideas.

  1. Recognition: What do you want to be known for?
  2. Opportunities: What kinds of opportunities and experiences do you want to enjoy?
  3. Achievements: What accomplishments, awards, or other milestones do you want to realize?
  4. Collaboration: Who do you want to partner or work with?
  5. Body of Work: What do you want to create? what ideas or value do you want to leave behind?
  6. Change: What change(s) do you want to create in the world (or your community or industry)? Are there behaviors, best practices, or ways of thinking that you want to transform?

Voice: Your Message and Perspective

In order for you to influence how people think and behave, you have to first earn their trust. Before you can earn their trust, you have to get their attention and keep it long enough for them to decide two things:

  1. Does this person have my best interests in mind – Likability
  2. Can this person’s content help me bring about my best interests – Credibility

We often assume that credibility is the most important of these two. However, research tells us that likability has more bearing on whether people want to listen to us.

Your voice is a reflection of who you are, how you think, and what is important to you. This is one of your greatest tools for demonstrating likability so that you can gain and keep the attention of your audience and earn their trust. Then you can influence and have an impact on the audience you serve. Without developing your unique and authentic voice, your message will fall flat and get ignored. It will be lost in the noise.

It’s important to understand that one for the primary reasons people will follow and support you is because of who you are, how you think, and how you make them feel. This is your voice in action.

When everything you do and say is founded in and congruent with an authentic voice, you will feel more invested in your work. Not only that, but you will feel more engaged and effective. When you use your authentic voice, people will respond in ways that are very energizing and fulfilling. This will further fuel your work. If you create content with an inauthentic voice, your creativity and motivation will wane.

Discovering and leveraging your unique and authentic voice can feel like a nebulous process. It’s not a checkbox that you tick off or a destination you arrive at. It’s an ongoing process that only moves forward by continually doing, creating, and sharing.

That said, there are a few specific things we will take a look at now that will help you understand and articulate important elements of your voice.

The 3 Whys

When you communicate a clear reason why your content exists, your audience will resonate more deeply with it. To help you do this, answer the following questions that I refer to as the “3 Whys.”

  • Why is it important to you to produce the content you do?
  • Why is your content important to those who see it?
  • Why is your content important to the world (or to your industry/community)?

Together, these three questions justify why the world is worse off if your content doesn’t exist. While that may sound like a grandiose way of thinking, it’s important to believe that you have something to say and that there are people in the world that need to hear it specifically from you. When they do, their lives will be improved to some degree simply by hearing your perspective.

When your audience understands why it is important for them to listen to you, they have a reason to continue listening. They know what the payoff is for investing their time and attention.

When your audience understands why your content is important to you, they come to understand that your motivations go beyond personal gain. This, in turn, gains their loyalty and trust.

When your audience understands why your content is important to the world, they gain a sense that by supporting you they are part of something that is bigger than them. This turns your content into a movement.

The “3 Whys” make for excellent content to include in your inaugural content. Even years down the road, people who discover you will want to return to your first content to discover where it started.

Your Origin Story

Your origin story is another powerful tool for demonstrating likability to your ideal audience. In a wider sense, storytelling is very effective at conveying your content in a memorable and impactful way.

Make a list of experiences, stories or anecdotes that have shaped your work and give it meaning. Here are some questions to help you.

  1. When did you first feel a strong desire to do the work you do now?
  2. What experiences have resulted in life lessons, changes in your world view, or ah-ha moments that now fuel your work?
  3. What are the biggest challenges you have been through in life? How have they informed your work or point of view?

It’s even effective to use these stories more than once. This ensures that more people hear them and integrate the underlying message into their thinking.

How can you integrate the 3 Whys and your origin story into your current body of content? If this inspires you to go create a new video, blog post, or podcast episode that will better allow your authentic voice to shine through, let me know! I want to see it.

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